By Laura Zuckerman
Reprinted from the Post Register, November 3, 2013 edition.
SALMON — A 103-year-old building in Salmon – built from bricks produced by one of the city’s early entrepreneurs – stands ready to be revamped through the efforts of the Lemhi County Historical Society and Museum.
The building that straddles a corner of Terrace Street north of downtown Salmon was erected near the turn of the last century with sandstone bricks manufactured by founding Lemhi County resident Frank Pollard. It was built in a section of the city that once bustled with Chinese immigrants.
The asymmetric structure once held the offices of a newspaper first known as the Lemhi Herald and later the Salmon Herald. The building faded from public prominence in 1932 when the newspaper relocated to Main Street. But it found new life when it was purchased in 1945 by the Salmon Grange Association.
As membership declined in the fraternal organization, which was tied to small agricultural landholders in the city, the building known as the Salmon Grange was transformed again, first becoming a venue for community concerts and later a soup kitchen.
Hope Benedict, head of the Lemhi County Historical Society and Museum, said the building’s latest uses were designed to prevent the unique structure from languishing with disuse.
“There is a lot of community interest in the building. It has great relevance to the history of Salmon, Lemhi County and the state of Idaho,” she said.
The structure’s importance led the local Rotary Club more than a decade ago to pay for a new roof as Idaho Power installed energy-efficient doors and windows. The Salmon Grange Association eventually sold the building to the historical society for a nominal price with the hope it could be restored and with the promise it would continue to serve the community, Benedict said.
In its latest incarnation, the Salmon Grange building will house the museum’s professional photography department — a moneymaker for the nonprofit — and provide exhibit space that is in short supply. The historical society has targeted renovations that could top $100,000 to address issues such as structural weaknesses and water damage to the ceiling and rear of the structure.
Armed with $35,000 from the Steele Reese Foundation, a Salmon-based philanthropic organization, and another $5,000 accrued from an Idaho Heritage Trust award and museum fundraisers, the society hopes upgrades can get underway in coming weeks. Additional grant requests are pending.
Benedict envisions a future for the historic structure that will celebrate the area’s rich past, with plans in the works for rotating exhibits that either travel from sister institutions or are conceived locally.
Idaho Heritage Trust Executive Director Katherine Kirk said the building’s decorative brick detailing near the edge of the roof and other formal design elements suggest a simple Renaissance architectural style.
The structure’s charm hinges on features such as the corner-angled front door, but its underlying value is tied to the century of service it has provided to the community, Kirk said.
“Saving that building and finding a new use for it will connect it to people of a newer generation in a fresh way,” she said.